Blog

Next Steps

Dear colleagues,
As we move forward with our staff union officially recognized, we want to give you a few updates on the next steps in the process and how you can be involved. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing over the coming weeks as we prepare for negotiations on our first contract!

Contract Action Team
We will be forming a Contract Action Team (CAT) of leaders who will serve as a communication network to ensure that every staff member is being directly and consistently updated and heard from. This group is open to everyone and we would love you to join us for our first meeting on Tuesday, January 26th at 6:30pmRegister here to attend and feel free to join for more information even if you’re not sure of what role you’d like to play. Ideally we would have at least one leader from every department in our bargaining unit on the CAT team. Please let us know if you’re interested in representing your department on the CAT! 

Bargaining Surveys
One of the things we’ll do at the first CAT team meeting is review and begin distributing our bargaining surveys. These surveys (which will also be sent out to everyone electronically) will be a crucial part of our process to ensure that we have a complete understanding of what every staff member’s priorities are for the contract. Please make sure to watch for the survey when it is sent out and make sure to take time to complete one.

Bargaining Team
There will be a section on the bargaining surveys that allow you to nominate yourself or someone else to serve on our bargaining team. After we’ve received surveys and nominations, we’ll hold an election (also electronically) to form our official Bargaining Team that will be representing us at the bargaining table for negotiations with the administration. We’ll be sharing more details about this process in the coming weeks, but don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about this role and to express interest!

New Rights 
Now that we have been recognized as a union, we have new rights immediately as individuals in our work at Augsburg, even before we reach an agreement on a contract: 

  1. No Unilateral Changes. Whereas in the past, as at-will employees, the administration or managers could impose any changes they wanted on staff without any back-and-forth conversation, now that we are a union, they are required to negotiate with us over these changes. If your working conditions or any important aspect of your job is being changed that you don’t want or aren’t comfortable with, please contact us and we can help address the situation.
  2. Right to Representation. You now have the right to request a union representative in any meeting or conversation with a manager, supervisor, or HR that could potentially lead to discipline. If you are asked to attend such a meeting, you can say the following to invoke what are known as your Weingarten Rights“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or discharged, request that my Union representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.” Please contact us as soon as possible if you are in this situation.

NLRB Notification
We have filed the proper paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board notifying them that Augsburg has recognized our union now that our agreed upon election process through the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services is complete.

We’ll continue to provide updates as we move forward together in this process and we invite you to get involved in as much as you are able to. We will announce other opportunities for staff members to engage and ensure that we continue building our union in the most inclusive and democratic way possible. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions, concerns, feedback, and suggestions!
In solidarity,Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee

December 4 Update

Dear Augsburg Staff,
We’re one week closer to our election! We expect to have an Election Order issued by the Bureau of Mediation Services on Monday, December 7th. The Election Order officially begins the process that will bring us to vote on the union! We will be reaching out to you individually to confirm your plan to vote.
As soon as we have the confirmed dates for the election we will let you know!
You may have seen President Pribbenow begin sending us emails letting us know that the administration is going to be holding “information sessions” to share their views on our union. While we support everyone being informed about our union and what it will mean for you as an individual and for us as a collective staff, the truth is, theadministration has no role in the decision we are making as a group of coworkers. A truly progressive employer would stay neutral in this situation without trying to discourage us against something we’ve already collectively decided. We are disappointed to see the administration choosing this path and we know it doesn’t live up to Augsburg’s highest values. The good news is that our campaign is rooted in these shared values and when every eligible staff member votes, we are going to win this election and move our institution forward. 
We keep hoping that the administration will live up to our shared Augsburg values, but unfortunately we’re seeing more and more typical employer anti-union behavior. Here are some of things they’ve already said or might say in the coming weeks:

  • Union as a Third Party – We have already seen President Pribbenow refer to our Augsburg Staff Union as a third party. This is a very misleading and common anti-union statement intended to make us confused about what a union really is. It is also intended to raise concerns about how a union will affect working relationships between staff and management and other hypothetical problems that don’t bear out in reality. We the staff at Augsburg are the Augsburg Staff Union, and we will collectively decide everything that we do as a union by voting, from the decision to form our union, to elect our leaders, to deciding what we prioritize to bargain for, and whether to ratify our contract once it is negotiated. While we will be affiliated with Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 12, we will control the decisions that affect us and our work at Augsburg. 
  • Futility – Employers often attempt to discourage employees from unionizing by making them believe that forming a union will not make any difference. One example of this could be talking about Augsburg’s poor budgetary situation and implying that there is no money in the budget for any of the positive changes we plan to negotiate for. The reality is, when we win recognition for our union, the Administration will be legally required to begin negotiating with us in good faith to make improvements for staff and we will have the ability to access information about the Augsburg budget that we currently have no access to. If they really believed we won’t have the power to make real gains, why are they trying so hard to try to change our minds?
  • Dues – It’s true we will pay dues for the protections and support we receive in our union. However, we will not pay dues to OPEIU Local 12 until after we have negotiated and voted on our contract. This gives us the opportunity to ensure that the wage and benefit increases, and other protections that we negotiate are worth the cost of dues. OPEIU Local 12 calculates monthly dues based on the following formula: 2x your hourly wage/salary equivalent + $9.50. There is a cap of $53 a month that no member can exceed. Not only can we negotiate for wage increases, we can also negotiate better benefits and lower healthcare costs that will save us money.
  • It’s an irreversible decision – The truth is, workers can remove or disband unions through the same process we’re forming one, by having a majority vote to remove it. Inconveniently for most employers, workers generally like their union when they have one and wouldn’t vote to remove it. 

While these are likely to be some of the themes we will sadly hear from the Administration over the coming weeks, there may be other objections raised as well. Please reach out to us when you hear things that give you concern or confusion. We know Augsburg can be better than this and we’ll get through this if we stick together, stay informed, and vote Yes when our ballots arrive.

December 2 Update

Dear Augsburg Staff,
We have exciting news to share with you about our union and important reminders about the next Town Hall/Q&A’s! See links below to register.
Our Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee has come to an agreement with President Pribbenow regarding the terms of an election. Here’s what that means:

  • Our election will be conducted by mail-in ballot.
  • Our election will be overseen by the Minnesota Bureau of Mediation Services, a trusted and neutral institution that is familiar with running union elections.
  • We should begin receiving our ballots in the mail within two weeks from now. 
  • We will have roughly two weeks to return our ballots by mail.
  • Once we have confirmation from the Bureau of Mediation Services that they have issued an Election Order, we will know the official start date of the election.
  • A majority of union-eligible staff will need to Vote Yes for our Augsburg Staff Union to be formed with OPEIU Local 12.
  • Your vote matters! Not returning a ballot will count as a “No” vote so it’s critical that every supporter be sure to get their Yes votes sent in and counted. (Note- This method of counting votes is abnormal but the Administration insisted on it being in the agreement.)
  • As you saw in President Pribbenow’s email Monday, the Administration is insisting that Shared Services departments be excluded from the vote. We strongly disagree but have determined the best path for everyone is for us to move forward with our vote so we can begin making positive changes for all staff. We continue to believe that all staff at Augsburg deserve the right to organize and have our voices heard. 
  • We maintain an overwhelming majority of support and we will win this election as long as every supporter votes.

That’s a lot of information! Don’t worry, we’re making sure everyone on staff knows exactly what this means to them, so expect to be contacted by one of us, your colleagues, shortly to talk more about our election.
Now that we have achieved the most fair, timely, and inclusive process possible, we’re excited to move forward with all of you to win our election and finally gain the recognition and voice that we all deserve.

November 20 Update

Hello Supporters of the Augsburg Staff Union,


Thank you so much to everyone who joined us last week for our Virtual “Shine a Light” Vigil on Facebook Live! Having the support and solidarity of community, students, faculty, alumni, gives us the strength and resolve to press on in our campaign for a voice and seat at the table.

It has now been over 3 weeks since we announced our staff union and asked the Administration and President Paul Pribbenow for a fair process to recognize our union. It has also been over a week since we provided a detailed election agreement to President Pribbenow and we have yet to receive any substantive response either agreeing to our proposal or proposing something different.

While Augsburg professes many admirable and progressive values in the community, creating unnecessary delays and dragging out the process is a typical anti-union response we’d expect to see from a large corporation, not Augsburg. Whether the delays are intended to harm our campaign or not, the Administration must be held accountable and urged to live up to its own values.

What we are asking is simple: Let us vote. Let us have a fair, timely, and inclusive election where we will confirm our strong majority of support among staff that have already come forward publicly to request recognition.

Please take a moment to contact President Paul Pribbenow and ask him to support a fair, timely, inclusive process for the Augsburg Staff Union to be recognized. You can call and leave him a message at 612-330-1212, email at pribbeno@augsburg.edu or message on Twitter @PaulPribbenow

If you’d like to publicly endorse our campaign, you can submit a statement and photo here.

We’ll continue to keep you updated on the progress in our campaign and thanks again for your support and all you do in our community!

11/13 Update email

Hi everyone,

We hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy as we move into some more statewide Covid-19 restrictions this evening. This email is a bit of a read, but we think it’s critically important to be transparent and informative with this process that we know is new for many of us. Thank you for engaging!

We want to provide an update on our process for union recognition and share some next steps. 

  • President Pribbenow and the administration have refused our request for voluntary recognition, as well as a simple card check of our majority, but have agreed to a neutral 3nd party secret ballot election. 
  • They proposed using MN Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS), which is a statewide agency experienced in these processes. We have accepted this proposal. 
  • BMS has agreed to run our Augsburg Staff Union election via mail-in ballot.
  • We presented an election agreement based on BMS standard operating procedures to President Pribbenow on Thursday, Nov 12, and asked for a response, at minimum to the timeline, by Monday, Nov. 16th. This would allow us to conclude a timely election process by December 7th. 
  • Our request, which is laid out in the election contract, is to ensure a timely, equitable, and inclusive election process. One that includes all eligible staff, and is completed before the end of the fall semester. We believe it is important that the administration recognize all of our voices before we move into the holidays, winter break etc… 

Last night, we held our “Shine a Light for Workers’ Rights” vigil outside of the Augsburg House and live streamed it via Facebook. President Pribbenow joined us! If you missed it, you can view the recording here. We presented a community support petition signed by almost 600 alumni, faculty, students, and community members who have our backs, and a few of those people spoke at the event. It was a great moment to celebrate how much power we hold when we come together! 

We asked our supporters to continue showing their support by taking the following actions; we encourage you to do the same, and share with your networks:

  • Over the next couple of days, call and email President Pribbenow and ask him to commit to a fair, timely, and inclusive recognition process. Here is his contact information: 612-330-1212, prib…@augsburg.edu 
  • Download and use our Zoom virtual backgrounds for work meetings
  • Keep up to date with the information and our actions on AugsburgStaffUnion.org and follow us on social media: facebook, instagram, and twitter pages 
  • If you have questions about the union, want to talk to a colleague, or want to add your support by signing a Union Card, contact us at AugsburgS…@gmail.com

We will be holding another zoom Town Hall/Q&A on Friday, 11/20 at 5:30pm for ALL eligible staff. Please join us to meet your colleagues and get your questions answered. Even if you don’t feel supportive of this movement, your voice will be included, so it’s important that you feel fully informed before any vote. These town halls are a place for open dialogue and we encourage all questions. 

A heads up: At their request, we are also holding a Q&A for students next week on Thursday evening. 

Just think, health insurance election forms are due today… Imagine how that process could be improved once we have a say in our health care choices! 

What questions do you have? How can we help? Please don’t hesitate to be in touch. We’re all learning together and moving forward together. We are powerful when we are united, and we can work for our right to have a seat at the decision making table. 

In solidarity,

Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee

11/8 Update email

Dear Fellow Augsburg Union-Eligible Staff,

Thanks to everyone who made it out on Thursday night for our 2nd Q&A Zoom session. We’ll continue scheduling these regularly moving forward to engage with you, answer questions, and get feedback. We’ve attached the slides that were presented last night for your reference as well.

To summarize the steps we have collectively taken in this campaign so far together:

  1. We have had 1:1 conversations with each other for well over a year about the way that staff gaining a voice and seat at the table would help Augsburg fulfill its mission to serve students.
  1. In October, after confirming that a strong majority of coworkers supported forming our union, we circulated union support cards and a public letter signed by the majority that asked President Pribbenow to voluntarily recognize our union. We continue to believe that voluntary recognition is a transparent, democratic, and legal process that many other progressive employers have recently agreed to, especially as the current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has become aggressively anti-worker under the current administration. NLRB secret ballot elections have become time-consuming, contentious, expensive, and divisive ordeals and we believe that Augsburg deserves better than this.
  1. On October 29th, a large group of staff gathered at Murphy Square and delivered our public letter to President Pribbenow’s office and gave him one week to respond.
  1. Less than 24 hours later, on October 30th, HR sent out a canned response dismissing our request for voluntary recognition and insisting that we pursue a process through the NLRB. 
  1. We then reached out to President Pribbenow to request a meeting and direct response and explanation. We also planned a peaceful vigil “Shine a Light for Workers’ Rights” to be held tomorrow, Tuesday 11/10, 5:30pm at the Augsburg House to continue raising awareness of our campaign and building solidarity with our community.
  1. President Pribbenow eventually agreed to meet with us on Thursday 11/5 where he told us he was open to a recognition process that didn’t involve the NLRB but insisted that it include a secret ballot election. We asked him to put this in writing and he agreed to respond by Wednesday, 11/11. 
  1. We now hope and expect President Pribbenow to formalize in writing with us the outlines of a process that is fair, timely, and inclusive to all who have come forward seeking a voice. There is no need for this process to be time-consuming, contentious, expensive, or divisive. As Auggies, we know we can do better!

While we are disappointed that the administration declined to voluntarily recognize us, and has yet to formalize their agreement to a fair process, we’re hopeful this is a first step in the right direction towards having our Union officially recognized. 


In the meantime, we are excited to celebrate the formation of our union with all of you as well as students, faculty, alum, and our broader community that we have received so much love and support from since publicly announcing our campaign. Please join us for our “Shine a Light” Vigil tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/10, 5:30pm at the Augsburg House where President Pribbenow lives to celebrate and peacefully call on the administration to agree to a fair process that lives up to Augsburg’s values. This will be a great chance to show President Pribbenow (who is welcome to join us) how united and determined we are to move forward with a fair and timely process. With an early sunset, we recommend folks come with phones, flashlights, headlamps, etc, to help truly shine a light for the rights of all workers. Staff, family members, students, faculty, alum, and community members are all invited to join us. We will be distributing our Augsburg Staff Union face masks and will be ensuring a socially distanced and peaceful event.

As always, please reach out with questions, concerns, or suggestions and hope to see you tomorrow night!

In Solidarity,

Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee

Ongoing ways to support:

  1. Attend our “Shine a Light” Vigil at the Augsburg House on Tuesday, 10/11 5:30pm 
  2. Download and use our Zoom virtual backgrounds for work meetings
  3. Keep up to date with the information and our actions on AugsburgStaffUnion.org and follow us on social media: facebook, instagram, and twitter pages 
  4. If you have questions about the union, want to talk to a supportive colleague, or want to add your support by signing a Union Card, contact us at AugsburgS…@gmail.com
  5. Share our petition requesting voluntary recognition and our public endorsement form with your networks.

11/5: Q+A/ Update Meeting tonight!

Email sent to all supporting staff on November 5, 2020:

Dear Fellow Augsburg Union-Eligible Staff,

Just a quick reminder that we’re gathering via zoom tonight @7pm, for an update on our meeting with President Pribbenow today, and possible next steps. We also want to give ample time and space for your questions to be answered. Please register using this link to receive the zoom info. 

We hope everyone can join us tonight for much more detail and discussion, but the quick update is the President indicated an openness to a fair process that does not involve the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While we are disappointed that the administration declined to voluntarily recognize us, and has yet to formalize their agreement to a fair process that is timely and includes all the staff that have organized, we’re hopeful this is a first step in the right direction towards having our Union legally recognized. President Pribbenow committed to formalize his response by Wednesday, 11/11.

Additionally, the Echo published two relevant pieces in this week’s paper:

Augsburg Staff Form Union 

BIPOC Staff Mistreatment Factor in Unionization

As always, please reach out with questions, concerns, or suggestions. 

We look forward to seeing you this evening. Go Auggies! 

Augsburg Staff Union 

& OPEIU Local 12

Ongoing ways to support:

  1. Attend our “Shine a Light” Vigil at the Augsburg House on Tuesday, 10/11 5:30pm 
  2. Download and use our Zoom virtual backgrounds for work meetings
  3. Keep up to date with the information and our actions on AugsburgStaffUnion.org and follow us on social media: facebook, instagram, and twitter pages 
  4. If you have questions about the union, want to talk to a supportive colleague, or want to add your support by signing a Union Card, contact us at AugsburgS…@gmail.com
  5. Share our petition requesting voluntary recognition and our public endorsement form with your networks.

11/4 Update & Invitation

Email sent to supporting staff on November 4, 2020:

Dear Augsburg Union-Eligible Staff,

During this challenging week of uncertainty, we’re so thankful for this community. Regardless of what happens over the next few days, we know that this union is what democracy looks like. Our union is real collective action that has the potential to bring about substantive changes in all our lives. We will win and we will make Augsburg a better place for all students, faculty, and staff alike.

The Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee would like to invite you to a campaign update and Q&A session, tomorrow, Thursday, 11/5 at 7:00 pm CST via zoom. Please register using this link to receive the zoom info. 

On Thursday morning, members of our Organizing Committee are meeting with President Pribbenow. The purpose of the evening session is to share an update on that meeting, as well as next steps in our process to win recognition of our union and answer any questions from staff. 

Please feel free to pre-submit questions by replying to this email to ensure your question is answered.

We hope everyone is taking good care of yourselves, colleagues, and loved ones during this challenging week. We’re looking forward to seeing all those who can attend tomorrow, and as always, please reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions. 

Thank you!

Augsburg Staff Union 

& OPEIU Local 12

Ongoing ways to support:

  1. Attend our “Shine a Light” Vigil at the Augsburg House on Tuesday, 10/11 5:30pm
  2. Download and use our Zoom virtual backgrounds for work meetings
  3. Keep up to date with the information and our actions on AugsburgStaffUnion.org and follow us on social media: facebook, instagram, and twitter pages 
  4. If you have questions about the union, want to talk to a supportive colleague, or want to add your support by signing a Union Card, contact us at AugsburgS…@gmail.com
  5. Share our petition requesting voluntary recognition and our public endorsement form with your networks.

10/30 Update: Together for Our Future

Email sent to supporting staff on October 30, 2020:

Hello,

Thank you to those of you who came out to Murphy Square Park to gather with us and pick up your Augsburg Staff Union mask! If you weren’t able to make it, please reply to this message and we can arrange an alternative way to get you a mask.

Yesterday we delivered our letter to President Paul Pribbenow and the Board of Regents requesting voluntary recognition of our Staff Union, including the 100+ signatures on the letter that represent a majority of union-eligible staff. This morning, we received a canned response from HR dismissing our request for recognition. The Augsburg Staff Union is enthusiastically moving forward in the campaign for recognition and awaits President Pribbenow’s response. It’s unfortunate that President Pribbenow couldn’t join us to chat in the park yesterday, as he would have heard from staff who are simply asking for a seat at the table, and he would have seen a group of staff gathered in solidarity, representing multiple departments and identities.

Voluntary recognition is a legitimate, legal way to form a union. There’s more than one way to recognize a union, but voluntary recognition by an employer is always the quickest and least contentious. A majority of staff have already voiced their support for a union. We have all put in the hard work by discussing it among ourselves and coming to this decision together. Recognizing us is the legitimate next step in this democratic process. It will bring us one step closer to having a seat at the table when it comes to deciding Augsburg’s future.

Many of our Augsburg Staff Union members drew inspiration from the email President Pribbenow addressed to the Augsburg Community on October 26th, stating, “democratic engagement is much more than voting. It is joining with our colleagues to protest, to advocate, to organize, and to make our voices heard on behalf of the causes and communities and commitments that we believe in,” and it is odd that the administration would contradict this sentiment coming from President Pribbenow himself.

Here is the full letter that was delivered to President Pribbenow yesterday, showing the strong support of staff who stand in solidarity asking for voluntary recognition of our union.

It’s sad that the administration appears to prefer spending money on lawyers and a lengthy and contentious election process overseen by the Trump-appointed National Labor Relations Board than looking at the names on our letter.

We still have not heard from President Pribbenow, and we have asked him and the Board of Regents to respond by Thursday, November 5. Today, we are continuing to reach out to him for a direct forum and response. Our deadline is still Thursday for our request for voluntary recognition, and we are prepared to take a number of further actions to make sure our union gets recognized.

We are inspired by the overwhelming support we have received from the community! In less than 24 hours, we received 328 signatures on our petition, including a public endorsement from Representative Erin Murphy. We also received immediate news coverage from WCCOKSTP, and other community outlets.

Additionally, we want to remind you of your legal rights to unionize, which are protected by federal labor laws. For example, supervisors are legally not allowed to ask you about your knowledge of, involvement in, or support for our union campaign.

Remember, we are in this together – take care of each other, reach out to fellow coworkers, and continue to ask for the recognition we deserve, with the following actions:

  1. Proudly show your support in meetings by using an Augsburg Staff Union Zoom background. 
  2. Continue to share our petition requesting voluntary recognition and our public endorsement form with your networks.
  3. If you use social media, like and share our facebook, instagram, and twitter pages

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns, or ideas.

In solidarity,

Augsburg Staff Union Organizing Committee

OPEIU Local 12